Friday, October 19, 2007

Impromptu Demo Breeds Ideas

I have seen this happen a lot through Twitter the last couple of months, but I had a first hand experience with it yesterday. I was teaching the final session of a professional development for a small group of teachers at an elementary school in our district. The class was about them learning to use the tools available on their Mac laptops. Over the course of the 5 weeks (3 hours per session) we covered the OS, File Management, iLife, iWork, Comic Life, etc.

One of the tools they gravitated to the most was iChat. While most were initially excited about the opportunity to cheaply visit with distant friends and family, they soon discovered what a great tool it was for communication within their building. I wanted to leave them with a glimpse of other things that are happening and available now. I chose to show them UStream. I was afraid this might push them over the edge, but what actually happened was quite different.

Within about 10 seconds the first idea was blurted out, then another and another. Within 2 minutes they had about 10 ideas for using UStream in their classroom. None of them are new and original, but I was impressed that they came up with them. Here is what they came up with...

1. Sharing presentations with parents who might not be able to attend in person.
2. Letting homebound students participate with class (shared Brian Crosby's work with them).
3. Showing and recording student behavior so adminstrator is aware (both positive and negative).
4. Allows parent's who can't normally come to the classroom to see what is going on in school.
5. Live science demonstrations showing or receiving from others.
6. Recording of teaching so students can review it later.
7. Recording student presentations so parents, grandparent's, etc. can view it later. (Password features helps)
8. Allowing guests, experts, etc. to come into the classroom from far away. (Platform neutrality the key for them here.)
9. Weekly newsletter (broadcast) for parents.
10. Nightly broadcast review of the day for students.
This list for me is not spectacular for the ideas themselves, but for who came up with them. This was a group of teachers who 6 weeks ago were afraid to do much more than write an email or browse a web page. I am going back out next month to help a few of them set up their own shows. It was pretty exciting.

The other exciting thing that came out of this class, was that by last night, I didn't have to show anyone anything. By that I mean if someone had a question about an issue with a program, or how to do this or that, I couldn't even answer. Others in the class took over and taught them how to do it. One of them even turned to me and said, "what do we need you for?" I felt proud and rejected all at the same time.

Podcast coming in a day or two.

See You in a Few!

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